“Wearing The Right Hat: The Dangers of Unethical SEO” (Response Marketing Blog)

Trying to get discovered? In online marketing, no tool is greater than the advertising generated by a high PageRank on the almighty Google. By delivering what it determines to be the highest quality pages to its users, Google’s search rankings serve as the ultimate form of testimonial to your website. But what determines “quality?” This is the question that search engine optimizers have been working on professionally for years.

Quality is generally understood to reflect the relevance and usefulness of your site to Google’s users. However, there are always those who attempt to circumvent quality and cheat the system. These “Black Hat” SEOs utilize deceitful and misleading techniques that attempt to trick the search engines into giving them a higher PageRank. Some of the more common “Black Hat” methods include doorway pages, keyword stuffing, and purchasing links. All of these methods superficially make sites seem more relevant by hiding mass quantities of keywords in the background of sites, linking to sites that simply provide links for rank purposes, and directing search bots to false pages. Sound easy? Think again.

Black Hat SEO’s will preach that these shifty methods bring quick and effective results. While your site may see a massive PageRank jump in a short period of time, its life will be a ticking time bomb. All deceitful practices go against Google’s Webmaster Quality rules and their utilization will bring the wrath of the Google gods down on your business. As quickly as you jump to the top, you will be cut out of the search game completely. A few years ago, BMW.de (BMW’s Germany page) was completely banned from Google for utilizing doorway pages and other Black Hat SEO techniques. JC Penny was also caught red handed purchasing links for hundreds of keywords and suffered a huge rank demotion as a consequence. Recently, Google has even announced the refinement of theirsearch algorithm to further cripple low-quality search results bolstered by these practices. Specifically aimed at content farms (sites that produce and syndicate low-quality media and copy material for the sole purpose of rising in the search results), Google claims this new fine-tuning will sink ad-driven content and bring valuable, rich material to the top of the search results.

In the age of social media, Black Hat techniques have permeated Facebook and other networks as well. Spammers on social media sites will create fake profiles, cloud pages with links, and keyword stuff profiles to achieve a higher level of exposure. While Facebook may not have as elaborate of a search algorithm and strictly enforced spam guidelines as Google, Black Hatters can rest assured they still won’t make it very far. Being a social community, if you are perceived as fake or deceitful the users will severely downplay your personal credibility and banish you from a vast community of your consumers. Nothing looks worse on a social media site than to outwardly utilize deceitful advertising.

No matter how much money these Black Hatters make in the short term, it is almost a guarantee that the damages will outweigh the quick gains tenfold. There are plenty of honest, effective SEO methods (“White Hat”) that are as simple as providing rich, relevant content to your users. In promoting your business, make sure you utilize techniques and providers that assure you no deceitful practices.

When taking your money to the Black Hat tables, you’re running a high risk of loss for a little chance of lasting reward. Don’t gamble with your business.

View on the Response Marketing Blog 3/3/2011

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